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Just The Sports: Ohio State-Michigan Breakdown

Just The Sports

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ohio State-Michigan Breakdown

Meager 3-point victory margin aside, Ohio State dominated Michigan from the start of the game until the clock ran down to 0:00. The only reason why the final score was even as close as it is was because Ohio State basically gift-wrapped 17 points for the Wolverines through a combination of turnovers and prevent defense. Take that away and this was another disappointing performance by a Lloyd Carr-coached Michigan squad, which is what I am setting out to prove in this post. To do this, I broke down the game down by down (excluding fourth downs) and then separated it into run and pass categories to see which team won the down battles. Of the six different combinations, Ohio State won four of them and Michigan won two, but as I will point out a bit later one of the Michigan wins is really by default.

First downs were a clean sweep for the Ohio State Buckeyes, both running the ball and passing it. Ohio State was successful on 53.3% (8 of 15)of their runs and gained 5.3 yards per first down run when to get a first down they needed an average of 10 yards. Michigan's numbers are quite lacking when put up against Ohio State's as the Wolverines only had successful first down runs on 38.5% (5 of 13) of the plays and gained an average of 3 yards a run when the average first down marker was 8.6 yards away. Neither quarterback was spectacular passing on first down, but Troy Smith was more efficient gaining a successful amount of yardage 53.3% (8 of 15) of the time, averagining 4.9 yards per pass when an average of 9.9 yards was needed to keep the chains moving. Henne's important numbers were 28.6% success rate, 1 yard per pass, and 10.4 yards needed for a first down.

On second down, the victory is split two ways, mostly because Michigan had their most success on this down. Still, the Buckeyes bested the Wolverines with their overall running totals despite having a lower success rate (50% to 77.7%). Ohio State can thank the two rushing touchdowns of 52 and 56 yards for helping win this combination battle. Unlike when they passed on first down, both Chad Henne and Troy Smith were very adept with their passes on second down with Henne slightly edging out Smith. Henne had a higher success rate (73.3% to 66.7%) and he averaged 12.5 yards per pass attempt to Troy's 10.3 yards per pass attempt. To get first downs, the quarterbacks needed to have averaged 9.5 yards and 7.4 yards, respectively, per pass attempt so the average attempt gained a first down for their teams.

As I alluded to earlier, Michigan won one of the down combinations by default and it was on third down runs. Michigan ran the ball twice on third down, getting two first downs for their rushing efforts and one 32-yard scamper by Mike Hart. The only time Ohio State even ran the ball on third down was on the last play of the game where Antonio Pittman gained 6 yards to run out the clock. Another play classified in the play-by-play data as a run was really a fumble caused by a botched center-quarterback exchange.

Passing on third down is what really separated Ohio State from the chaff that is Michigan. Henne stepped back to pass on ten third-down plays and only converted two of these into first downs. Conversely, Smith converted five of nine such opportunities into first downs gaining an average of 5.6 yards per play when he needed an average of 8 yards for a first down. Had Henne been better on third downs, perhaps the Michigan Wolverines would have won.

No, wait. Scratch that. Lloyd Carr is still the coach.



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